Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck
When some travelers think of Andalucía, they think of flying a business jet into posh Marbella, along the Mediterranean coast. Others might think of Sevilla or maybe the long stretches of beaches along the Costa del Sol. However, like many other pueblos in Spain, there’s one regional treasure that’s not easily found. Far removed from the well-worn tourist tracks in Madrid or Barcelona, up in the arid, majesticSierra Nevada mountains, the intrepid traveler can find Lanjarón.
Lanjarón rests in a valley a little over an hour away from Granada. Lanjarón is widely considered the main town of the Alpujarras region. While the Alpujarras region is dry, rugged and cooks under the sun at altitude, the area is a haven for farming and agriculture.
Over the last century, the region has drawn a diverse mix of travelers, bohemians, writers, farmers, expats, hippies and others seeking a fresh start. Many come to live off the land and plant a dizzying array of fruits and vegetables along the miles and miles of ancient Moorish terraces that wind their way across the mountain sides as far as the eye can see. Strawberries, mint, almonds, olives, lemons, walnuts, and many other fruits and vegetables complete the bountiful bouquet of local offerings. The key ingredient to the locals’ farming success is due to very high quality water.
Despite very low annual rainfall totals, Lanjarón flourishes on par with a fantastic oasis in the Sahara. The town is the beneficiary of excellent sources of water: aquifers, mountain springs and snow melt. The entire area is blessed with some of the freshest, cleanest water you will ever drink. Many homes have their own wells, and also still rely on acequias built by the Moors centuries ago. The Moors were masters at irrigation and they built these tunnels directly into their mountainside terraces, so that each terrace is regularly fed with its own dedicated water supply. The clarity of the water in local streams is astonishing. Some people even believe the waters have healing properties.
Lanjarón is the Spanish equivalent of Evian. The most famous bottled water in Spain is made in and called, Lanjarón. The town is also home to famous baths and spas. Thus it is a big tourist attraction and many people come carrying water bottles, to fill at the various fountains in town that purport to have assorted health benefits and cures. Perhaps it’s not just the water though that rejuvenates the body and refreshes the soul. Like many other towns in Andalucía, Lanjarón offers delicious tapas at all the local bars. You can also find excellent locally sourced honey and Spanish ham here. If you take a horseback ride up to the top of the mountain, on a good clear day, you can see Morocco, just over a ridge of mountains that sit behind Motril on the coast. Ironically this type of disconnected and antiquated life is becoming more and more sought after by vacationers and travelers alike. Escape to a time and rural place where the lifestyle hasn’t changed considerably over the past 100 years or so. This is a pristine corner of the world, mostly untouched by modernity, that’s best found by missing your executive jet charter.
** Photos and post by Adam Miezio